Sequential Read Performance

Sequential operations still make up a substantial portion of enterprise storage workloads. One of the most IO heavy workloads we run in AnandTech's own infrastructure are our traffic and ad stats processing routines. These tasks run daily as well as weekly and both create tremendous IO load for our database servers. Profiling the workload reveals an access pattern that's largely sequential in nature.

We'll start with a look at sequential read performance. Here we fill the drive multiple times with sequential data and then read it back for a period of 3 minutes. I'm reporting performance in MB/s as well as latency over a range of queue depths. First up, bandwidth figures:

The biggest takeaway from this graph is just how much parallelism Intel manages to extract from each transfer even at a queue depth of 1. The P3700 delivers more than 1GB/s of bandwidth at QD1. That's more than double any of the other competitors here, and equal to the performance of 3.7x SATA Intel SSD DC S3700s. Note that if you force the P3700 into a higher power, 25W operating mode, Intel claims peak performance hits 2.8GB/s compared to the 2.2GB/s we show here.

With NVMe you get a direct path to the PCIe controller, and in the case of any well designed system the storage will communicate directly to a PCIe controller on the CPU's die. With a much lower overhead interface and protocol stack, the result should be substantially lower latency. The graph below looks at average

The P3700 also holds a nice latency advantage here. You'll be able to see just how low the absolute latencies are in a moment, but for now we can look at the behavior of the drives vs. queue depth. The P3700's latencies stay mostly flat up to a queue depth of 16, it's only after QD32 that we see further increased latencies. The comparison to the SATA based S3700 is hilarious. The P3700's IO latency at QD32 is lower than the S3700 at QD8.

The next graph removes the sole SATA option and looks at PCIe comparisons alone, including the native PCIe (non-NVMe) Micron P420m:

Micron definitely holds the latency advantage over Intel's design at higher queue depths. Remember that the P420m also happens to be a native PCIe SSD controller, it's just using a proprietary host controller interface.

Sequential Write Performance

Similar to our discussion around sequential read performance, sequential write performance is still a very valuable metric in the enterprise space. Large log processing can stress a drive's sequential write performance, and once again it's something we see in our own server environment.

Here we fill the drive multiple times with sequential data and then write it back for a period of 3 minutes. I'm reporting performance in MB/s as well as latency over a range of queue depths.

Once again we see tremendous performance at very low queue depths. At a queue depth of 1 the P3700 already performs better than any of the other drives here, and delivers 1.3GB/s of sequential write performance. That's just insane performance at such a low queue depth. By QD4, the P3700 reaches peak performance at roughly 1.9GB/s regardless of what power mode you operate it in.

The chart below shows average latency across the QD sweep:

The P3700 continues to do extremely well in the latency tests, although Intel's original PCIe SSD didn't do so badly here either - its bandwidth was simply nowhere as good. Another way to look at it is that Intel now delivers better latency than the original 910, at substantially higher bandwidths. Micron's P420m manages to land somewhere between a good SATA drive and the P3700.

The next chart just removes the SATA drive so we get a better look at the PCIe comparison:

 

Introduction & Consistency Random Read/Write Performance & Latency Analysis
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  • extide - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    They finally did it, a bad ass no-compromises SSD. Reply
  • extide - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    Dissappointed you didnt run the 2013 Destroyer on there, with that amazing low-queue depth performance, it will probably blow everything else away on that chart. Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    I mean really... For $1.50/GB, this could be purchased by a desktop enthusiast, so it's completely valid to test this against other consumer drives to see how it'd do. I'd be very interested in the results. Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    I agree, needs consumer drive comparisons... Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    absolutely, but wait until they have a 3600 or 3500 in their hands. Reply
  • NCM - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    It would also be useful to compare to the PCIe consumer SSD's that Apple has been shipping in the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and iMac lines for quite some time now. Given its sales volume and early adoption of PCIe drives, I'd have to imagine that Apple may have shipped more of them to users than anyone else. (These drives are supplied by both Samsung and SanDisk, and perhaps others.)

    Yes this new Intel product is for a quite different market, but comparison is how one comes to understand what those differences are and mean.
    Reply
  • Marthisdil - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    No one really cares much about Apple's offerings. Mainly because they are such a small percentage of the Marketplace.... Reply
  • easp - Monday, June 09, 2014 - link

    You miss the point. They are one of the largest players in the consumer market. Moreover, most of their sales are a premium price points and include SSDs. Put the two together, and they almost certainly ship more consumer SSDs than any one else by far. What's more, many of their lines are already on PCIe SSDs.

    So, please explain why Apple's shipping PCIe SSD options aren't a significant point of comparison against an aftermarket SSD that just arrived in the market.
    Reply
  • Ammaross - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    The M.2 SATA-protocol-on-PCIe drives? A comparison would mean Apple would need have to have support for NVMe first or the ability to even slot in such a card (rules out the 3 offerings you outlined). Reply
  • extide - Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - link

    What are you talking about? "The M.2 SATA-protocol-on-PCIe drives?" doesn't even make sense.

    All you need to do to compare them is run the benchmarks on the apple hardware, possibly while running under a windows OS. OR, if the drives use the regular m.2 style connector you could just stick them in a desktop. The fact they run AHCI over PCIe does not make a comparison impossible, in fact all of the other PCIe cards in this review that were benchmarked against were also AHCI based cards. Seems like NVMe is confusing people at lot more than it should.
    Reply

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